Life at the Googleplex just got a lot more complex
While allegations that Google co-founder Sergey Brin had an affair with a colleague have not been confirmed, Google wants to make it clear that the person who is being called into question as his girlfriend does not and has never reported directly to Brin.
The clarification is significant because there are some thorny legal issues that can arise from romantic workplace relationships.
According to Christopher Lebsock, a lawyer with the San Francisco office of the law firm Hausfeld, a sexual relationship between a manager and a colleague or lower-level employee can give rise to charges of discrimination or harassment.
For example, he said, employees who had to work with the two having the relationship could claim that discrimination was being practiced in the workplace (after all, they're not getting that close to the boss), and the company would be held liable.
CNBC reached out to Google for comment on its policy regarding sexual relationships among employees and was told that like any large organization there are people within the company that are dating and married.
According to Google's code of conduct, "Romantic relationships between coworkers can, depending on work roles and respective positions of co-workers involved, create a conflict of interest."
On Wednesday evening, news broke that Brin, whose fortune is estimated at $24 billion, and his wife of six years, Anne Wojcicki, have separated. A spokesperson for the couple confirmed to CNBC that the two had been living apart for several months and that they remained amiable.
Brin's alleged girlfriend is Amanda Rosenberg, 26, the marketing manager for Google Glass, according to the Silicon Valley gossip website ValleyWag.
Brin is currently head of special projects at Google, which includes the Glass Project. The company would not go into specifics about the Google employee being called into question, but did say the marketing team is separate from the product development side.
Reports also said that Rosenberg was previously linked to Hugo Barra, the vice president of product management for Android. He made his own news Wednesday evening, announcing via his Google Plus account that he was leaving to join Chinese phonemaker Xiaomi.
"After nearly five and half years years at Google and almost three years as a member of the Android team—the most amazing group of people I've ever worked with in my life—I have decided to start a new career chapter," he said.
The speculation is that Rosenberg and Barra's breakup was a catalyst for his departure.
CNBC has asked Google who would be taking over his responsibilities but did not immediately hear back.
The saga also contains some messy business entanglements, including the fact that Google, Google Ventures and Brin are all invested in Wojcicki's genomics start-up, 23andMe. Not to mention that her sister is Google's senior vice president of advertising and commerce.
The couple active philanthropists, donating about $223 million in 2012, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. They also have founded the Brin Wojcicki Foundation.
A spokesperson for Brin and Wojcicki said that they would continue to work on these projects together. Whether they plan to divorce remains unclear, but a prenuptial agreement in the case of a legal separation would leave no material impact on Google, according to AllThingsD.
Apparently, Google folks don't care much for monogamy. It was reported last month that CEO Eric Schmidt was spending millions of dollars on a New York penthouse to entertain women other than his wife, according to a New York Post article.
—By CNBC's Cadie Thompson. Follow her on Twitter